WPI Honors Graduates at 2005 Commencement

Ray Kurzweil Addresses WPI's 137th Graduation Ceremony

Contact: WPI Media Relations, +1-508-831-5706

WORCESTER, Mass. - May 22, 2005 - A breezy spring day was the setting for Worcester Polytechnic Institute's 137th commencement yesterday, the first to be led by WPI's new president, Dennis D. Berkey, who was formally inaugurated on May 20. During the outdoor graduation ceremonies on the campus Quadrangle, the university officially conferred 616 bachelor's degrees, 252 master's degrees and 22 Ph.D. degrees.

The program began promptly at 11 a.m. with the processional led by honorary marshal Robert L. Norton, WPI professor of mechanical engineering. After the Call to Order, National Anthem and Invocation, graduating senior Adam M. Epstein '05 delivered an address to his classmates and guests as the student speaker.

President Berkey then conferred three honorary degrees on Robert L. Diamond '56, Henry C. Lee, and Ray Kurzweil. Diamond was recognized for his lifetime of innovation and entrepreneurship, most notably as the inventor of Caller ID, and received an honorary degree of doctor of engineering. Lee was honored for his 46-year career as one of the world's foremost forensics experts, contributing to more than 8,000 criminal cases, in receiving an honorary degree of doctor of science. Kurzweil was commended for his three decades as an inventor, entrepreneur, author and futurist in being awarded an honorary doctor of science degree.

Kurzweil then delivered the ceremony's commencement address. Speaking to the audience at the head of the stage without a script, he laid out his exciting vision for the future, and provided the graduates with practical advice for their futures. He discussed three great revolutions that are underway in genetics, nanotechnology and robotics; genetics which promise new biotechnology techniques to extend life; nanotechnology which can be applied to areas such as solar research to meet future energy needs; and robotics which can be applied to expand artificial intelligence at the human level.

He concluded his remarks by offering the graduates advice for the future. He noted that "in order to create knowledge, you need passion," and that "persistence pays off." "You're the only one who can determine your success or failure. If you have a passion... see it through to success. And, never give in."

After all of the degrees were conferred, Berkey gave a final message to the graduating class. He said, "I am confident that you will live lives not only of high achievement, but of great personal satisfaction. And do not go quietly. Question everything, remembering and using the critical skills that you developed in your classes and projects, and in debates with your faculty and fellow students. And despite Thoreau's advice, pay attention to the ballot box as well as to the man on the street. You are well prepared to determine and contributed to leadership at all levels."

Earlier in the day, Colonel Margrit M. Farmer of the U.S. Army conducted the ROTC Commissioning Ceremony for 26 cadets and midshipmen, 16 of whom were WPI graduates and the others hailing from Assumption College, Becker College, Clark University, College of the Holy Cross, Fitchburg State College, University of Massachusetts Lowell, and Worcester State College. Colonel Farmer is Deputy Commanding General of the 77th Regional Readiness Command at Fort Totten, N.Y.

About Worcester Polytechnic Institute

Founded in 1865, WPI is a pioneer in technological higher education. WPI was the first university to understand that students learn best when they have the opportunity to apply the knowledge they gain in the classroom to the solution of important problems. Today its students, working in teams at more than 20 project centers around the globe, put their knowledge and skills to work as they complete professional-level work that can have an immediate positive impact on society.

WPI's innovative, globally focused curriculum has been recognized by leaders in industry, government and academia as the model for the technological education of tomorrow. Students emerge from this program as true technological humanists, well rounded, with the confidence, the interpersonal skills and the commitment to innovation they need to make a real difference in their professional and personal lives.

The university awarded its first advanced degree in 1898. Today, its first-rate research laboratories support master's and Ph.D. programs in more than 30 disciplines in engineering, science and the management of technology. Located in the heart of the region's biotechnology and high-technology sectors, WPI has built research programs - including the largest industry/university alliance in North America - that have won it worldwide recognition.